vLex Takes Minority Stake in Irwin Law

Research platform vLex has once again made an expansionary move after taking a minority shareholding in Canadian legal publisher, Irwin Law, which will also see vLex now provide access to its content.

As part of the deal, Masoud Gerami, UK-based Managing Director of vLex, Global Markets, will join Irwin Law’s board of directors. The deal will go live at the start of August.

vLex has been expanding rapidly over the last few years. It bought Justis in the UK, and has expanded into the Asia-Pacific region. It also has formed a partnership with Mishcon de Reya to explore legal research innovation.

While it can appear that the Big Two – Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis – have the legal research market sewn up, there is increasing pressure from vLex as it expands its offering.

The company has also developed NLP tools and an interactive digital assistant to improve the search process. This latest move will further increase its presence in North America.

Gerami said: ‘I’m delighted that we will be hosting Irwin Law’s award-winning titles on vLex, and that we have completed the share purchase agreement with Irwin Law. 

‘These agreements will create new opportunities for growth and innovation, and I look forward to working with Jeff [Miller] and his colleagues to offer exciting services to this community of users that we have known and served for many years.’

And, Jeffrey Miller, President, Irwin Law, added: ‘I am very pleased that we will be able to offer our E-Library on the vLex service, which I am sure will improve the experience of the users of our publications considerably. I also welcome Masoud as a board member to Irwin Law.

‘Masoud is an experienced executive with a diverse background in digital legal information dissemination, and my colleagues and I look forward to working with him and his colleagues from vLex on our plans for development and growth of the digital arm of Irwin Law.’

vLex now provides access to a collection of legal information from over 130 jurisdictions and has a team of over 200 lawyers, engineers and editorial experts. Meanwhile Irwin Law is Canada’s youngest law publisher, and was established in 1996.

Is this a big deal? As noted, it’s further proof that the legal research giants can’t have the market all to themselves. The expansion of vLex makes it more likely that firms will buy in their research platform in order to get the complete picture, even if they continue to use Westlaw and LexisNexis. At the same time Bloomberg Law is also steadily expanding, and we also have several smaller legal research companies continuing to take incrementally important bites out of the market.